Common Victim Profile
The typical story of a trafficking victim is far from ordinary. The complexities of the systematic abuse survivors of sex-trafficking and prostitution endure often surpass the disorders associated with survivors of other types of sexual abuse or domestic violence. For child survivors, this is even more so.
Still these abuses must be told so that the often degraded and socially disdained position of the prostituted person can be understood for what it truly is: the state of an extremely victimized human being.
Oftentimes, victims will be less than cooperative with people trying to help them. There is a reason for this kind of behavior. Those assigned to help trafficking survivors, whether they be from social service, faith communities, or law enforcement, must be apprised to the common victim profile of the survivors of human trafficking and handle survivors in an astute, patient, and constructive way that benefits both the victim and any existing criminal case targeting those responsible for the crimes against the victim.
The Wounds & Scars
History of a Survivor
The majority of women trapped in sexual exploitation started out as children who at some point in their lives, were recruited into prostitution by someone they thought they could trust. As children, the high risk category susceptible to pimps are runaways, repeat runaways and throwaways.
Often, for this high risk group, abuse started even before they met a pimp; the abuse started at home. Incest or intra-familial sexual exploitation usually, but not always, propels a child's desire to runaway from home. This kind of severe child abuse is found to be a pervasive commonality in the lives of prostituted persons. Because of this probability of familial abuse, survivors often do not have the ability or desire to seek parental help and for children, the affirmation and support that they need for development into well adjusted adults, is provided by their "pimp daddy" or "boyfriend" with disasterous results to the well-being of the child.
The "Grooming Process"
After women and girls are lured into prostitution, it is not uncommon for new recruits to be beaten, brainwashed, gang raped, and addicted to drugs as a part of the established protocol-through-fear that pimps/traffickers use to control what they deem to be their "property." Pimps/traffickers are master manipulators who use promises of money, security and love which are needs that are often lacking in the lives of the girls they target. Soon after the "honeymoon" period of empty promises and affection, the dark and violent reality of forced prostitution becomes the norm. We often take for granted that healthy relationships are a phenomenon these survivors have never experienced.
Many ask, "why don't these women just leave?" One answer is that they have no where to go and will often take the abuse endured in prostitution for just vestiges of affection and false love they receive from their pimp: the only form of love they have experienced in their lives. This psychological manipulation is akin to the mind-control that takes place in domestic violence relationships. Make no mistake, it is common knowledge among pimps/traffickers that most efficient form of control is the control over a woman's mind. Once that is accomplished, brainwashing is complete.
Other forms of control are physically more violent and this constant violence evokes pervasive fear. Couple this state with drug dependency introduced by the pimp, feeding addiction to the woman or girl for the purpose of control and more so incapacitation, the result is psychological, physical and spiritual subjugation.
Excerpt of "American Pimp" (1999 - Hughes Brothers) - Explicit Language Warning
Start Video at 2:39 on Timeline
- Some Ways How Pimp/Traffickers Manipulate
(Below is a non-comprehensive list of some physical results shared by prostituted persons)
- Traumatic alopecia, or hair loss, created by trauma to the scalp due to the hair being pulled so hard that the scalp detaches from the skull. Other after effects from traumatic alopecia include black eyes, blood swelling in the forehead and/or temples, and hair loss.
- Scars from maiming by knives or burns from cigars or cigarettes. Vaginal and anal scarring.
- Transmission of permanent diseases including but not limited to: HIV; herpes; gonorrea of the throat; vagina, or anus; hepatitis; chlamydia, syphilis; and genital warts.
- Drug addiction.
(Below is a non-comprehensive list of some mental results shared by prostituted persons)
- Acute anxiety, paranoia, fear of persecution.
- Depression and suicidal tendencies.
- Extreme low self-esteem, tendency to be self-deprecating.
- Erratic behavior, violent outbursts.
- Believing that no one can help.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder.